Home > News > Crime News > VIDEO: REMSA Attempts to Shut Down Videotaping of Police Detainment of Individual in Midtown

VIDEO: REMSA Attempts to Shut Down Videotaping of Police Detainment of Individual in Midtown

By Bob Conrad
REMSA Ambulance

REMSA AmbulanceREAD MORE: Fact-check Friday: Does REMSA have the right to try to stop videotaping in public spaces?

At about 3:15 today there were reports of a pedestrian in the middle of Virginia Street in Midtown punching cars, yelling and throwing his shoes. He eventually ended up laying down, appearing to be passed out, on the sidewalk on the west side of Virginia Street.

Reno Police arrived and detained the individual, who was obviously resisting, shouting and swearing. Soon after, REMSA arrived.

I was behind glass, out of sight of Reno Police. A REMSA employee, however, saw me videotaping and asked me to stop.

“We can’t have anybody taking pictures of our scene,” he said.

When I refused, he said he would “have the officers talk with (me).”

He cited HIPAA, or the “Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act of 1996,” as a reason. The full exchange is in the video below.

Timothy Broadway, with the Reno Police Department, said that there’s no policy that would prevent a citizen from videotaping in a public place.

“The First Amendment gives you that right,” he said. We’ve seen it increasingly since the Michael Brown situation, he added.

A request for comment has been sent to REMSA’s public relations agency.

UPDATE (May 8, 2015: 2:45 pm): Spokesperson for REMSA, Scott Walquist, said: “REMSA will always attempt to protect the privacy of our patients and serve as their advocate. However, we can only make a request to a bystander to refrain from taking photos or videos on public property to better protect the privacy of a patient.”



Eddie May 15, 2015 - 4:24 pm

I thought the medic was very polite and trying to advocate for his patient.  If the filmer was truly a journalist it’s a very poor quality video. Don’t argue, just show your press credentials, if you have them and aren’t a so-called “citizen journalist.”

John May 12, 2015 - 2:33 pm

HIPAA only applies to medical providers who bill electronically. (Meaning that HIPAA does not apply to most bystanders but would usually apply to EMS personnel on scene but generally not the police, if EMS and police are separate agencies, and in that case they could still photograph but it would become part of the patient medical record and would be protected.) Anyone can photograph someone in a public place — the problem comes in how that photograph is used (you can’t take a photo of a person in a public place and use it for marketing purposes). If the person being photographed had an expectation of privacy (for example, a pregnant woman collapsed in a public park and began giving birth), then the photograph would be an invasion of privacy.

bconrad May 12, 2015 - 12:27 pm

GregNickel Appreciate the comment. I think a few assumptions are being made here. This individual’s identity was a. never identified, and b. never really of interest (in fact, quite the opposite). 
Filming was underway well before REMSA arrived — at which point the individual was not a “patient” but somebody who was assaulting, allegedly, people and property prior to being detained, again, before REMSA even arrived. In most people’s book, that’s victimizing, criminal activity. He was subsequently arrested by a citizen for being drunk in the middle of the street, according to RPD.

Some folks question whether I would want myself or family members filmed in a similar situation, and the answer is: absolutely yes. Current events should explain why.

Defending the relative news value isn’t productive, but please consider the amount of attention this has caused, especially among REMSA employees, as well as the discussion about how the First Amendment trumps HIPAA. Clearly, I sincerely hope, something was learned among REMSA folks who otherwise do a great service for our community.


For the record, the police did a great job handling the situation, and I told Tim Broadway (RPD) that directly.

puttyhi5 May 12, 2015 - 12:10 pm

Your headline is misleading. You were very much within your legal right to stay where you were and continue to ogle. Morally, not so much. A lot of people have forgotten (or never learned) what decency is. Treating others with respect. People in medical crisis don’t need the general public leering at them like they’re a side show attraction. Once you realized you weren’t getting anything “juicy” you should have deleted the video; not shared it in the hopes of garnering ignorant sympathy from yellow journalism lovers. Shame on you and shame on all the others that defend your inconsiderate behavior.

JimDean1 May 12, 2015 - 12:00 pm

First thing to note is that it really doesn’t matter if you’re a journalist.  The law doesn’t say officials have to give a journalist more leeway, it just says they can’t give you less.  Anyone who wanted to do so was 100 percent within their rights to videotape that. 
Second thing is that the medical providers employer needs to do a better job educating their employees on who HIPAA applies to.  A journalist or bystander is not a covered provider.

JimDean1 May 12, 2015 - 11:55 am

GregNickel  Based on that logic, this woman should never have had her photo taken as a girl.  http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Phan_Thi_Kim_Phuc

Truth is, that there’s nothing “morally” wrong with videotaping an incident like that.  It basically keeps everyone honest.  Let’s say he stopped rolling, two seconds later, the guy gets his hand on a gun, and gets killed.  The first thing that’s going to happen is Bob is going to get crucified for being in collusion with the cops, since he stopped taping them as they abused a sick person.  You and I both know that’s exactly how it would have spun. 
The reality is that HIPPA doesn’t apply to anyone outside those tasked with actually interacting with the patient.  Also, at that point, given that the “medic” seemed more focused on the photographer than the patient, it really seems more of a struggle during an arrest than taping a patient encounter.

GregNickel May 12, 2015 - 11:33 am

The paramedic was right to ask you to stop, wrong to say you couldn’t. You were morally wrong for filming a patient in an obvious medical/psychological crisis. Not everything is suitable for “journalism”. Peoples’s privacy, especially in medical situations, is something that “journalists” like yourself seem not to care about. Constantly recording police activity in hopes of catching them doing something wrong is one thing. Recording a patient being handled by police in hopes of getting something juicy either from the patient or the police is another. Your headline should read “REMSA employee attempts to protect medical privacy of patient in his care”. You chose, however to go with the cheap clickbait and imply that both the medic and police were doing something wrong. Quality “journalism”, Bob.

CharlesHolmes1 May 8, 2015 - 10:22 pm

True, but in America the ACLU sues the the wrong people all the time.
Your video depicts our local emergency responders in a positive manner. Keep up the good work.

CharlesHolmes1 May 8, 2015 - 10:18 pm

I will say Bob seems very objective. Stay professional and no one can really complain.
But I think I might start video recording, posting, and blogging Bob and everyone else that creeps around recording the police.
Think about the strangeness of these folks; the real entertainment would be watching these people, not the police.

bconrad May 8, 2015 - 4:22 pm

@Jimmy Nope, just the ones calling names/swearing. Disagreement is welcome. http://conradcomm.wpengine.com/commenting/

Jimmy May 8, 2015 - 4:00 pm

Weird how the negative comments toward the author were taken down.

bconrad May 8, 2015 - 10:04 am

ReneeHansen Thanks Renee. In hindsight, I think REMSA probably made an honest, well-intentioned mistake.

bconrad May 8, 2015 - 10:03 am

CharlesHolmes1 Very unlikely. The video doesn’t show the guy’s identity, and: http://conradcomm.wpengine.com/2015/05/does-hipaa-privacy-trump-the-first-amendment/

mrjerz May 8, 2015 - 9:36 am

@Race The paramedic was polite, but incorrect. And it’s not like Bob told him to F-off or something. He very clearly stated that he would not be moving, and that is his right. Members of the public are not bound by HIPAA. If they are concerned about the patient’s privacy, they can move him into the ambulance, where he has an expectation. But a sidewalk, nope. That is 100% public and anyone is within their rights to continue filming, photographing, yelling at them, whatever.

Race May 8, 2015 - 7:26 am

I don’t not find your quoted text reflects the paramedic kindness and professionalism that was not reciprocated by you in your video. Watching your video gave me a sleezy feeling that I had while watching the movie Nightcrawler, you know the one about the shady want-to-be journalist.

CharlesHolmes1 May 8, 2015 - 1:16 am

Your title should actually be “REMSA attempts to protect the privacy of patient in distress.”

CharlesHolmes1 May 8, 2015 - 1:07 am

I wonder if the ACLU will represent the patient in handcuffs when he decides to sue you for recording and posting video of him being treated by paramedics. Then maybe a REAL journalist will cover the lawsuit.

ReneeHansen May 7, 2015 - 10:59 pm

I appreciate that both parties were polite to each other even thought they disagreed.

PhilThyAnimaleHersey May 7, 2015 - 9:26 pm

ACLU has new free phone ap that videos and then automatically posts video to aclu without any intervention in case a cop (or fireman) takes phone from you…

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